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WEB EXCLUSIVE: As unemployment rate dips, gas prices rise in South County

January 22, 2011

NARRAGANSETT—For four straight weeks Rhode Islanders have seen their gas prices increase at the pump. Average retail gasoline prices in Rhode Island have risen 0.9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.19 per gallon yesterday. This compares with the national average that has increased 0.9 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.07 per gallon, according to gasoline price website Other websites including show constantly updated charts of the state’s cheapest and most expensive station rates.
Including the change in gas prices in Rhode Island during the past week, prices on Jan. 16 were 37.5 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 6.7 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 10.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 33.8 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
And while Rhode Island’s costs have remained moderately priced compared to many parts of the country, how a family is affected by an increase in gas prices relates to their income. Individuals living in counties paying the highest percentage of their income on gasoline—places like New Mexico, western Mississippi, eastern Kentucky—are located in poor rural areas. In recent years, southern Rhode Islanders were paying no more than 3 percent of their income on average in gasoline. But currently, Rhode Island's average price is 9 cents above the national average of $3.09 per gallon. Other related fixed costs like energy are an additional burden on the already economically hard-hit state. According to the Department of Energy, though Rhode Island is the smallest state and consumes the least energy per person of any state, citizens pay some of the highest energy prices.
But for those who do the most driving throughout the region, four weeks of increased fuel prices hits their businesses hard. “The cost of fuel comes right out of your bottom line,” a local trucking agency representative said. And while representatives for the company wished to be anonymous, one said that any monetary gains after two years of recession are stalled as oil prices rise.

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